BAGHDAD, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Sunday freed three villages from the Islamic State (IS) militants near the city of Heet in Iraq's western province of Anbar, while dozens of the IS militants killed in air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition and Iraq aircraft, security sources said.
The security forces and allied Sunni tribal paramilitary units, backed by international warplanes, managed to liberate three villages in Doulab area in west of the newly-freed city of Heet, some 160 km west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, a source from Anbar Operations Command told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The battles resulted in the killing of at least 12 IS militants and the destroying of five vehicles, the source said.
Separately, the U.S.-led coalition aircraft bombarded an IS headquarters in Albu Ali al-Jasim in north of the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, destroying the headquarters and leaving 10 IS militants dead, the source added.
Government troops and allied militias have been fighting for months to reclaim key cities and towns from the IS militants in the province of Anbar, including Ramadi and Fallujah, as militants attempted to approach Baghdad after seizing most of the province.
In northern Iraq, international aircraft carried out air strikes on the IS positions in the IS-held city of Qayyara, some 50 km south of the IS stronghold in Mosul, destroying weapons and explosives caches in a warehouse and killed at least 14 extremist militants, along with destroying nine vehicles, a source from the Iraqi Joint Operations Command told Xinhua.
Meanwhile, the international warplanes hit an IS convoy of vehicles in Hamam al-Alil area in south of Mosul, destroying two IS vehicles and killing eight of its occupants, the source said, adding the warplanes also bombarded a car bomb factory at a village in south of Mosul, killing at least 10 militants.
In addition, Iraqi warplanes conducted air strikes on the IS positions in the IS-held towns of Shirqat and Hatra, killing dozens of IS militants, the source said without giving further details.
The latest air strikes came as the security force are advancing to free the towns of Shirqat and Qayyara are part of a major offensive aimed at liberating the last major IS stronghold in Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad.
Iraq has witnessed intense violence since the IS took control of parts of its northern and western regions in June 2014.
Many blame the current chronic instability, cycle of violence, and the emergence of extremist groups, such as the IS, on the U.S. that invaded and occupied Iraq in March 2003 under the pretext of seeking to destroy weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the country.
The war led to the ouster and eventual execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, but no WMD was found.